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The product mix is the variety of products a company produces or sells to the marketplace. A product line often evolves, as manufacturers want to take advantage of a brand's value and the success of other products in the mix. Retailers carry a mixture of products to satisfy various customers. The product mix includes four common elements: Length, breadth, depth and consistency.
The length element of the product mix refers to the number of products in a given product line. You could also describe it as the number of stock keeping units or SKU's a company carries in a product line. For instance, the length of a grocery retailer’s soft drink product line is the number of distinct brands it carries. A longer product line means consumers have more options and access to greater assortment.
Breadth of the product mix refers to the number of product lines that a company offer or the variety a company offers. Offering a wider array of product lines is common for discount and department that sell products in a number of different product categories. Manufacturers develop breadth to diversify risks of a given product becoming obsolete. Retailers with wide variety often attempt to market themselves in a virtual one-stop shop.
Depth is closely related to length in the product mix in the sense that it offers the consumer options when selecting a given product. Depth refers to the different ways that you can buy a particular product in a product line. For instance, you can buy soft drink in a 2-Liter bottle, a six or 12-pack of cans, a 20-ounce bottle or other sizes. You can buy dish soap in liquid, powder or gel form. These options further enhance your flexibility as a buyer.
The consistency element of the product mix refers to the connection between products within the product line and the way they reach the consumer. For manufacturers, consistency refers to how closely related production processes are for various products. The more consistent production is, the more efficient and cost-effective. For retailers, consistency in a product mix makes it easier to perform suggestive selling and recommend close products. Distinct products in the mix typically translate to a unique selling process for that product.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.